The history of Shotley St. John

The history of the Church in Shotley goes back into the mists of time and it has to be traced from the Abbey of Blanchland, to St. Andrew's Church at Grey Mare Hill, to the present Parish Church at Snods Edge, Shotley.
In the year 1500 Shotley was part of the Barony of Bolbeck whose Lord at that time was the Earl of Westmorland. By 1663 most of the farms were held freehold. Surveys in 1570 and 1608 show a tenement called SNOLDS whose proprietor was Cuthbert Readshaw. In 1666 he conveyed two-thirds of this tenement to John Johnson of Ebchester Hill.
Following the Bolbeck Common Enclosure Act of 1771, flexibility of farm boundaries took place and by 1884 the majority of farms were owned by the three great landowners of the parish. These were the estates of Shotley Hall, Belsay Castle and Minsteracres. By this time the Snods had become part of Shotley Hall Estate.
Note:- There are two possible derivations of the place name of "Snods". One is the word "Snode" meaning "Snowy", derived from the Old English word "Snawede". The other derivation, which seems to be the more probable, is "a smooth, sleek and even slope of a high hill".
In 1830 the Wilson family bought the Shotley Hall Estate and in 1836 donated land and funds for the erection of a place of worship to replace the ruined St. Andrews Church.
On 1st January 1837 "a handsome and commodious Chapel of Ease€, in the parish of Shotley was opened for divine service, when an eloquent and appropriate sermon was preached on the occasion by the Rev. W. N. Darnell, Rector of Stanhope. Lord Crewe's Trustees, the patrons, endowed the Chapel and very liberally subscribed towards its erection". - Local Papers.
This building, dedicated to St. John, was consecrated on 30th August, 1837, and subsequently became the Parish Church. Near it were built a parsonage house, a school and a teacher's house.
An interesting extract is taken from "Old Bywell" Church Reader 1889.
"Since the opening of the organ on 25th April 1889, there has been a marked improvement in the attendance at St. John's Church, Shotley, due no doubt, partly to the addition, but not less, I believe, to the fact that the church had previously been thoroughly cleaned and the pews made more comfortable."
The lych-gate at the entrance to the churchyard was erected in memory of Lucy Walton-Wilson, who died following an accident at Simonburn Rectory on 7th November, 1901. The oak used in the erection of the lych-gate was actually grown on the family estate at Shotley Hall.
(Extract from booklet compiled by George S. Nash)

- Further extracts to be published -